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Corporate identity


The recent Hatfield trial saw several individuals subjected to enormous pressures for a number of years before charges were dismissed by the judge or withdrawn by the prosecution.

The corporate manslaughter charges, as on previous occasions after major events such as this, were also thrown out. The guilty parties suffered record fines under the Health & Safety at Work Act.

Although the point has been well made by you (NCE 15 September) that cases like this do not do anything for the recruitment of senior managers, I would place this concern in the above context. Although industry deserves greater clarity perhaps, it also needs to deal severely with those who are grossly negligent.

HSWA is a blunt tool as it is used to cover a very wide range of corporate failing.

No-one wants to see yet more regulation, but the adoption of a statutory offence of corporate manslaughter (removing the current identification obstacle embedded in the common law) would give gravitas to the most serious offences not always conveyed by the HSWA.

The draft bill on this topic is targeted at the organisation, not the individual, but it still has no certain timetable and has some way to go before it could reach the floor of the House of Commons.

John Carpenter (F), 1 Sherbrooke Close, Sale, Cheshire M33 5SZ

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